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October 18th, 2008:

Bios Drama

Before my new processor even arrived I needed to upgrade software embedded in the motherboard in my linux computer (the BIOS) to be able to handle the new high tech processor I ordered.

It’s remarkably hard to upgrade the bios on your motherboard, when you don’t have a floppy or CD drive and are running linux. Some motherboard manufacturers make updates available in forms that run under Linux, and I’d highly recommend those brands to people looking to build a linux PC. Otherwise you’re stuck swapping HDs from your windows computer, which convinces windows that it’s been pirated, plus you’ll have to install the windows ethernet drivers for your computer to be able to access the bios update online, which (since you don’t have a CD drive or a working internet connection) requires a fair bit of work.

All in all, I see this as a vindication of my multi-computer policy as this required three in order to work properly: one to need updating, another to steal a hard drive with windows installed on it, and a third to remain functional for downloading drivers and saving them to flash drives which would then be accessed by the Frankenstein-ian hybrid I created.

Especially since somehow, in the processor of upgrading, I ended up with a “rogue anti-spyware” program on my windows hard drive (no idea how that happened) that proved so persistent that I was forced to reinstall windows from scratch before it would run again on my ACTUAL windows computer. 

Upgrade complete

You might recognize this computer:
Linux-Nymph
Then again you might not. After all a black box isn’t very distinctive. Regardless, this is the central server of my home network. It stores 3.25 terabytes of data between internal and external hard drives, can serve video to any computer in the house, and is accessible via VNC or ssh anywhere in the world (that I can get internet access), and draws less electricity than the average lightbulb. And now, after the arrival of a gift and less than an hour’s work it’s more useful than ever.

As I outlined before, the main bottleneck I faced was processor speed. With the arrival of the components I’d talked about that bottleneck no longer exists! Everything happens blazingly fast. I can’t wait to try out WUBLAST on this new and improved machine. I want to build a private database of the rice, sorghum, maize, and brachypodium genomes (and platypus genome, why not?) all in one location.

The wonderful thing about doing bioinformatics, is that if you just feel like messing around and seeing what there is to find, it doesn’t take hundreds of dollars of reagents in a controlled lab environment with super expensive pieces of equipment.

But applications later, for now I just want to enjoy how cool it is!

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